The successful completion of a film or video project hinges on two things: a keen eye for detail and constant collaboration. Producing content represents the confluence of many different areas of expertise as well as the management of many different practical assets. For it to work effectively, your team must have a video production process in place that allows these things to come together. Your team needs to know what they have to do, when and where they have to do it, and how to provide and source critical information.
To manage this process effectively, all professional video production teams follow some form of the traditional pre-production, production, and post-production process. This process is linear, collaborative, and designed to ensure that no details get missed.
Before you can write, plan, or shoot anything, you need to define your goals. What kind of story does your team want to tell? How do you plan to tell it? How long is it going to be? The answers to these questions will form the foundation of the rest of your project.
It’s important to work collaboratively at this stage. When everyone on your team is engaged and informed at the outset, they can begin thinking about their individual contributions. This decreases lag time once the production process begins in earnest.
Documentation and communication is key across the entire production cycle, so start strong in the development phase to set your project up for success. Using content ideation tools like index cards will help your team structure and discuss their ideas together, as well as get them comfortable in a synchronized working environment.
Writing & Previsualization
The script is the keystone to your team’s entire project. By virtue of its unique formatting, a screenplay-style script creates a perfect template for communicating important information quickly.
Screenwriting is an expansive art, but its core principles are fairly simple: write visually, and only communicate what will be seen and heard on the screen. This process can be as collaborative as you need it to be. Consider using a script editor that enables real-time collaboration and a commenting and @mentions system to allow your team to actively give feedback on the script as it takes shape, as well as make edits where required.
Depending on the kind of project that you’re writing, you and your team might want to consider using a specialized script format, like a multi-column AV script editor. This format is designed for content such as advertisements, documentaries, and other short-form videos, and blends the screenwriting and previsualization process together.
Previsualization refers to the process of planning the cinematic approach of your project. Using storyboarding, you can give your camera team a better idea of what kind of shots you hope to achieve and help them plan accordingly. Workshopping the general look can also help determine what style of locations, wardrobe, and decor should be sought once the planning process begins.
With the script locked and previsualization complete, it’s time to prepare and organize all the practical assets that will be required for you to execute your shoot. This process begins with the breakdown.
Breaking down your script means going through it line by line and identifying everything that it calls for: props, actors, sets, vehicles, and more. Your team can manage this process by using a tool that automatically transfers your breakdown to a project catalog. When your breakdown is complete and you’ve created your project catalog, you can add budgeting and sourcing information as well as important contact details to ensure you have all the important asset information you’ll need.
On the visual side of things, your director and camera team can work together on building a shot list. This process references your script and storyboard to create a shooting plan, and will help them determine what kind of equipment they will need to procure.
When this phase is complete, you will have every detail accounted for, and will be able to move into the shooting phase with confidence.
This is where your planning pays off. Your script, breakdown, shot list, and catalog information will inform the content of your strip board and schedule, where you will organize each shooting day. Your team can work together to organize your shoot in the most efficient manner, and keep an eye on the production calendar to anticipate what’s coming next.
A film shoot is an exercise in controlled chaos. Many things can and often will go wrong. This is to be expected. However, with the solid foundation of planning that you and your team have accomplished, you’ll be prepared to minimize any problems.
The next step in the process will likely involve scheduling and generating critical production documentation like call sheets. Call sheets are your crew’s marching orders for the day, and contain all the information they’ll need to to achieve their objectives. Because schedules and call sheets may need to change or be re-distributed on short notice, choose tools for your project that allow you to update and re-distribute these documents quickly and easily.
With the shoot complete, it’s time to move into post-production. This phase involves editing footage and sound, color correcting, and adding animations or visual effects. While the majority of your crew can take a breather at this point, input and insight from key team members will be required to help your editors and technicians make the right choices.
Strong pre-production documentation will provide your post-production team with an invaluable resource: every stage of the development, writing, planning, and shooting phase will be available and intricately documented. This will help them form a clear picture not only of your original vision, but also how things changed as the project went to camera. This material will help make their workflow faster, easier, and less stressful.
The more projects you complete successfully with your team, the more finely tuned and organic your production cycle will become. Exactly how you implement your process will evolve with experience, and requires tools that are up to the task.
The Celtx Studio provides an ideal featureset and environment for them to learn and work together. To learn more about how Celtx can help set your team up for success, reach out. We love helping creative teams to streamline their video production process and make the most of every project.